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Intercourse with France.
authorities of France had disavowed their former said, war is at best an unfortunate state, and it is aggressions, and refrained from them; they did not right to heighten its evils by exciting insurrecnot think it right to permit a trade with particular tions and commotions. If this principle is right, parts of the possessions of France, considering and Mr. G. believed it correct in most cases, it is that the measure was originally taken to distress clear that we shall not be justified in promoting the French Government, and bring it to terms; insurrections, even in war, much less in this but this section gives the power of opening a par- state, which is a state of hostility, but not of war. tial intercourse with St. Domingo, though the Notwithstanding the respect which he paid to Government of France should not disavow any the opinion of the gentleman from South Carolina of her former illegal acts; and the present amenda (Mr. PINCKNEY) he could not be persuaded thai ment only proposes to except cases of insurgency. The independence of St. Domingo could be a desi: Nor could he see what possible objection can be rable object. To-day, it had been avowed, in wha made to it, except that it will prevent a lure from fell from his colleague, (Mr. Hartley,) that this being held out to promote the independence of St. was the ground upon which the clause was found Domingo; for in nothing else does the amendment ed, all the French force being withdrawn. He differ from the bill as it now stands.
gave credit to the candor of his colleague fo If we are to hold out this lure, said Mr. G., it the declaration, and it was in this point of viev must be because we have the right, and it is our which he had always considered it, because b: interest to do it. When he asserted we have not had stated that, no doubt, an agent from tha the right to do it, he would remark upon the word quarter had come with propositions to our Gov "right." Gentlemen say we have a right to do ernment. this, because we are an independent nation. No Mr. G. repeated some of his former reason doubt. But when he said we have not a right to against the policy of promoting the independenc do it, he meant that we could not do it without of St. Domingo. He heard the gentleman fron infracting the law of nations, or those rules which Rhode Island, with regret, repeat one of thos we have declared ought to govern every nation. illiberal ideas that had been so frequently intro And though the gentleman from Connecticut has duced here, by saying that gentlemen seemed op said that there is no connexion of a political na- posed to this measure, because it would be injuri ture between us and France, and therefore con- ous to France. siders this as merely a commercial regulation, Mr. Some remarks had been made on the probabilit G. said, he has mistaken his meaning, by making of peace being made with France. He did no use of the word “connexion" instead of relation. mean now to consider this subject, because hi We have no connexion, either commercial or po- did not consider it as connected with this bill litical, with France; but we stand, as a nation, in In the course of the session, he supposed ques a'political and commercial relation with France tions would come before the House, in which and other nations. There is no connexion between it would be proper to touch this point. At pres us, but there is the same relation, both political ent, he wished io make no change in our situa and commercial, that there is between all other tion. nations. And, said Mr. G., it is, doubtless, an in- Mr. Champlin observed, that he did not allud fraction on the law of nations to offer any lure, or to anything the gentleman from Pennsylvania ha promote the independence of a colony. We cer- said, when he spoke of a common interest between tainly have a right to give assistance, in case of a this country and France. He drew this fron rebellion, by running the risk of becoming a party what fell from the gentleman from Virginia, tha in the war, but not without infracting the law of we are interested in the preservation of the French nations; still less could we do it without breaking marine. that morality in politics, the breach of which we Mr. PINCKNEY wished to make a single observa have so often complained of. We may suppose tion upon what fell from the gentleman fron the Government of France radically wrong, and Pennsylvania. In order to defeat all that has bee the people exercising it corrupt, but neither would said about this section holding out a lure for th justify the overturning, or holding out any encou- establishment of the independence of St. Do ragement to others to overturn, the Government of mingo, it need only be said, that it is confine any part of her dependencies. A conduct of this to the colonies which are under the jurisdic kind could only be justified in time of war. tion of France. The language of this clause is
In this country, in our speeches, at least, we “ so long as you continue dependent, we will trea have gone further, and said that, even in case of with you. war, it would not be right to sow the seeds of in- Mr. Nicholas explained. surrection; for, on what other grounds could we Mr. SPRAGUE observed that the gentleman from account for the philippics which have been pro- Pennsylvania insisted upon it, that, without th nounced on this floor against France, for her con- amendment, this bill would hold out a lure to i duct not only against countries with whom she surrections in St. Domingo, and that if gentleme was at peace, but also against those with whom did not wish to encourage these, they must agre she was at war. This was the case with respect to the amendment. What is this encouragement to all the charges made against France with re- It is, “ if you will forbear committing depreda spect to Holland, or the Milanese (now Cisalpine tions, which we have heretofore experienced fro Republic) with whom she was at war when the you, we will open our trade with you." The attempts condemned were made. But we have according to the gentleman's reasoning, acts
Intercourse with France.
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hostility against the commerce of this country, separate parts of the United States, instead of neare favorable to France; or rather, ceasing to gotiating with the General Government. The ommit them is an act of rebellion against the right must be reciprocal. nother country; and, to hold out a lure on our France may, for instance, consider the law aupart, to stop these depredations, is so contrary to thorizing the fitting out of 'vessels in the United he views of France, as to give a high offence to States, to cruise against her, as an act of hostility, that country.
and very injurious to her. Suppose, then, the Mr. McDowell remarked, that gentlemen op- Government of France were to say to the in. zosed to this amendment, all agree that the sec- habitants of New York, or Boston,' “ Provided ion, as it stands, holds out no lure to insurrection you shall refrain from fitting out any vessels in the French West India islands; if not, why against our trade, we will refrain from capturing should they object to this amendment, which is your vessels." Would not a conduct of this kind only calculated to make certain what is at present excite a far greater degree of indignity in the doubtful to some members. He wished genile- Americap Government and people, than any conmen to consider what might be the consequence duct of the French Government has yet excited ? of authorizing the President to treat with unau- It certainly would. Yet, where is the difference thorized persons. Gentlemen have stated, and he between this conduct and that which we are pursupposed truly, that the trade of this island of St. suing? He could see none. Will gentlemen say Domingo is a gold mine to the merchants of this we are right, and they are wrong; because country; and he was afraid that the richness of they are making depredations upon our comthis trade bad too much attraction to be resisted merce, and refuse to do us justice ?" This will by those concerned in it, though it might be dear- give no answer. Every nation is its own judge, ly purchased by the nation at large. He differed and can always declare themselves right, and their widely in opinion from the gentleman from South enemy wrong. Carolina, with respect to the effect which the in- But gentlemen say no negotiation is to take dependence of that island would have upon this place. Will the President, said Mr. L., when he country; he believed it was by no means a desira- linds privateers no longer fitted out at certain ble eveni to this country.
ports, renew intercourse at once with such ports, Mr. Livingston was afraid, and it could not be without any assurance that the same conduct will too often repeated, that the committee are losing be pursued? Some intercourse must take place sight of those great principles which gentlemen before a proclamation can be issued declaring hare heretofore so warmly espoused, viz: the dan- that the practice of privateering has ceased at any ger of interfering with the concerns of other Gov- place. Here is then a negotiation, and a treaty, ernments. It has been said that this detestable not only with a colony, but with any other port plan has been practised to an extent in Europe, or place, which will make application for it; yet unkoown to the ancient or modern world. If this we say an interference with foreign Governments is true, though he was not himself inclined to be cannot be sufficiently detested. We say this, and lieve it is a modern doctrine, it certainly ought yet we are about to do the same thing, not by not to be practised by nations who make the law words only, but by a solemn legislative proceeding. of nations their rule of action.
Gentlemen say wherever an authority is exerWe have complained, said Mr. L., that another cised, it must be supposed to be legal, and referred Government has, by invitation, by words, not by to the different Powers which have been established acts, attempted to separate the citizens of this during the Revolution in France. This was reacountry from its Government. If the fact is soning from particular agencies to a General well founded, and could be proved, it ought doubt. Government. In case of a revolution in the less to have excited the indignation of all Ame- Government of a nation, he would not inquire rica. Let us, said Mr. L., see what we are about how the new Government came by its power. to do. We are about to say, by law, "that we It would be sufficient for him that they had it. will give particular advantages in trade, when- But with respect to individuals who exercise a ever any part of the dependencies of France shall subordinate power, they can never be equal to be found to act differently from the whole body making a national compact. A governor, comof the nation, and, of course, contrary to the will mandant, or justice of peace, may be negotiated of their Government." Are we not about to do with under this act; and, if this amendment be this? No man who reads this bill can hesitate to rejected, we not only say we will negotiate with say we are.
particular persons, but we expressly declare that But gentlemen say it is no lure thrown out to we will negotiate with persons nog under the the dependencies of France, to say to them, “You Government. Gentlemen say this bill means ought to refrain from committing depredations that persons legally constituted only should be upon the commerce of the United States.” This treated with, but they refuse to say so by admitis a strange argument. The refraining from these ting an amendment which makes the matter clear. acts, for the advantages of our commerce, is the What is the meaning of this? What, but if the lure. If it is right in the United Siates to nego- general expression is suffered to stand, the Presitiate with a part of the French dominions, in or- dent would have it in his power to negotiate with der to induce them to act differently from their any man who chooses to say he is in power under Government, whether right or wrong, it would be the authority of France. The inference is clear. right for a foreign Government to negotiate with An insinuation had been thrown out that gen
H. OF R.]
Intercourse with France.
tlemen wished rather to promote the interests of the country requires. This jealousy of the PresiFrance than of their own country. If any infer- dent has a bad effect; because, from a want of ence of this kind is proper, said Mr. L., the re-confidence in this officer, he will be unable to do verse is true. Gentlemen say they do not mean anything for us. He hoped the amendment would to detach any part of the dependencies of France noi be agreed to. from the Government-and if so, it certainly must It was negatived—49 to 41. be an advantage to France to open a commercial Mr. EGGLESTON hoped, since gentlemen had intercourse with such of them as are in distress opposed several amendments which had been for provisions—to allow them to receive directly, offered, with a view of benefiting the commerce what they now receive in a circuitous maoner. of certain parts of the United States, to which If, therefore, he and his friends wished to serve they belong, he hoped they would support ar France, they had only to join gentlemen in this amendment which he should propose, out of re measure; but, iptead of this, said Mr. L., we give gard for the commerce of that part of the country it our most decided opposition.
to which he belonged. We are, said he, engaged The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. in carrying on a commerce in tobacco to France. PINCKNEY) yesterday told the committee that an This commerce is of no advantage to France, but ungrounded jealousy had taken possession of the it is of great advantage to the part of the country minds of some gentlemen, and particularly, said where it is raised; and though we do not think Mr. L., of mine. That a constant distrust was it prudent to trust American vessels to carry it to shown with respect to the execution of every France, from the risk they would run of being Executive measure. It may be so. Whether I plundered and robbed, he hoped this commerce have reason for this distrust, circumstances may would be suffered to be carried on by foreign neu. determine.
tral vessels. To effect this purpose, he moved to [Mr. PINCKNEY said he did not mention the strike out of the first section the words " hired or Executive; he was speaking on the subject of employed.” This would give an opportunity to war.]
such as choose to accept of it, to employ Deutral Mr. L. said, it amounts to the same thing. A vessels. distrust relative to war, must relate to Executive Mr. Dent said, this amendment would not be measures; for the measures taken in this House in order until the bill was gone through. relative to war, must be in connexion with Exe- The Chairman confirmed this opinion. cutive measures. Mr. L. said he had never con- Mr. EGGLESTON said he would move it at that sidered jealousy, though a fault when carried to time. excess, a much less fault in governmental proceed- Mr. Spaight said, as he had been so unfortuings than blind confidence; and if I, said Mr. L., nate as to lose one amendment, he would propose am to be considered in the light of a jealous man, another, which would, if agreed to leave the bill I must consider the gentleman from South Caro- as he wished it to have stood at first. lina as a blind lover, who cannot see faults where Mr. S. then moved to amend the 4th section, they really exist. Which of the two dispositions so that it should read thus: may be indulged with the least danger, he left to the committee to determine. For his own part, shall be lawful for the President of the United States,
"That, at any time after the passing of this act, it when he saw gentlemen oppose an amendment, if he shall deem it expedient and consistent with the which goes to meet what they say is the object interest of the United States, to remit and discontinue the of this bill
, he could not avoid a jealous fear that restraints and prohibitions aforesaid, either with respect something more is meant than meets the ear. to the French Republic, or to any island, port, or place,
Mr. J. Williams did not intend to have said belonging to the said Republic, with which commercial anything on this subject, as it is principally a intercourse may safely be renewed : and also revive the commercial concern, of which he knew but little; said restraints and prohibitions, whenever, in his opin- : but he also conceived that the agricultural interest ion, the interest of the United States shall require, and is connected with it. Gentlemen are afraid more he shall be, and hereby is, authorized to make proelais meant by this bill than meets the eye; they are mation thereof accordingly.” afraid to take a worm or a fly, lest a hook should This amendment was agreed to, there being 52 be concealed in them. Instead of war, he thought votes for it. this bill calculated to promote peace. It is ad- The fifth section then came under consideramitted, on all hands, said Mr. W., that Hispaniola tion; it was in the following words: cannot support itself. How must they, then, get support? Either we must supply them, or they
“ Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall must depend upon neutral islands, or the people be lawful for the President of the United States, if he must bend their whole force upon our commerce.
shall judge it expedient and for the interest of the What, said he is most prudent to do? He thought and prohibiting all commercial intercourse between the
United States, to issue a proclamation for suspending the regulation proposed by this bill the best that United States and any port or place in the West Indies could be hit upon. But the gentleman from
or elsewhere, in which vessels or privateers, commis Virginia said we are obliged to send our tobacco sioned by or sailing under color of authority from the through Spain to France; is this, said he, an ad- French Republic, shall be built, repaired, or otherwise vantage to the people of this country? It may equipped as vessels of war, for the purpose of cruising be presumed, Mr. W. said, that the President will against or capturing the vessels of the United States, go no further in this business than the interest of or with any port or place at which ships or vessels of
Intercourse with France.
(H. OF R.
the United States, captured by ships of war or priva- induced the committee to insert this clause in the teers, sailing under the authority or color of authority bill. It was stated to the committee, that ravages from the French Republic, shall or may be carried in, and depredations to a great and mischievous exand condemned or sold. And it shall also be lawful tent are sanctioned by the Governors of various for the President of the United States to revoke any ports in the West Indies, with which the United such proclamation, whenever, in his opinion, the public States are at peace. At Curacoa, Havana, Porto interest may require the same. departure of any ship or vessel shall not be restrained Rico, &c., our vessels, captured by French privaby any proclamation issued by virtue of this act until teers, are taken in and sold, and sometimes by ves
sels uncommissioned. It also appears, by docuthe expiration of one month from the date thereof, nor shall the entry of any ship or vessel within any port of ments on the table, that the judges and officers the United States, be prevented by any proclamation, who condemn them, are concerned in the vessels until the expiration of two months from the date of who make the captures. This being the state of such proclamation, unless such proclamation shall re- things, it was thought necessary to introduce a mit and discontinue all the restraints and prohibitions section of this kind; for, sioce the fourth section imposed by this act.”
is agreed to, it is most probable that all the vessels Mr. Nicholas moved to strike out this section. which heretofore sailed from St. Domingo will be He did not know why authority was given to the driven to these places. It would, therefore, be President to suspend our commercial intercourse, doing the business by halves, were not a section on the terms here stated. It is said that this in- of this kind to be adopted. With respect to the tercourse may be suspended with any port or place argument that these islands are obliged by treaty in which privateers shall be built, or repaired, &c. to admit French prizes into their ports, there may He supposed that the nations alluded to are under be a treaty between France and Spain of this obligation, by 'treaty, to permit vessels thus to kind; but if these prizes are taken from a neutral come in and repair, &c., and because this is al- | Power instead of an enemy, and Spain thus belowed, shall the President cut off our commerce
comes leagued with France against us, such a with these places ? He hoped pot. He was not treaty ought not to be binding upon us. He could willing to go to any such extremity, and he hoped not believe that Spain had entered into any treaty the committee would not.
which would countenance such a practice. We Mr. Champlin hoped the section would not be into a treaty with Spain to receive stolen goods,
might as well suppose that France had entered struck out. Great abuses were committed in the or to make their ports receptacles of pirates. He Durch and Spanish islands in the West Indies. did not mean to enlarge, because gentlemen seem In Curacoa our seamen are imprisoned, and ves- determined to oppose every principle of this bill, sels commissioned by the French Republic are and he believed it would be as well for the friends permitted to equip in those ports, and follow our of the bill to let these gentlemen have their talk ships immediately upon their getting under way to themselves. He did not believe the law of nations would justify the treatment which our seamen there received. ware did not understand him.
Mr. Nicholas said, the gentleman from DelaWhether or not these abuses could be corrected, from Massachusetts seems to have understood
The gentleman he could not tell ; but he thought it would be well him, but had not satisfied him. Mr. N. did not to give to the President the power of cutting off mean to deny that we have the right to interdict our intercourse with those islands; which, how- our commerce with any country we please; but, ever, it might be necessary to hold over them in if prior to our Treaty of Amity and Commerce terrorem.
with Spain, a treaty existed between France and Mr. BAYARD said, it was clear to him that the Spain, in which the right was reciprocally allowed gentleman from Virginia had not considered this to carry prizes into each other's ports, with which subject in its proper light. If the United States we were acquainted at the time, if we, because have a beneficial trade to any of these islands, it Spain admits of these prizes, interdict our comwould not be cut off by this bill; because the merce with any of her possessions, we violate our authority given is discretionary, and it must be treaty, and she will be at liberty to say the exercised for the interest of the United States. treaty shall be no longer binding. This, Mr. N. And will any gentleman say, that anything in the said, 'was the objection in his mind to this seclaw of nations will prevent us from thus protect- tion for which he did not think himself deserving our commerce?' What have we to do with ing of the reproof which he had received. As to the treaties of these islands ? If they are obliged the argument that po harm could arise from givby treaty to give harbor to these privateers, it may ing the President this power, it was sufficient to be a good reason why we ought not to declare answer, that when power is given it is expected War against them, but not against our cutting off to be exercised, and if this power be likely to run our intercourse with them. Our right, in this re- foul upon a treaty, it ought not to be given. spect, is uplimited, and the exercising of it could Mr. Gallatin believed it impossible to mistake not, therefore, give any just ground of complaint. the meaning of this section. It is extremely If those who indulge these practices think it is plain, and the gentleman from Massachusetts is more their interest to do so than to have an open doubtless right in endeavoring to make this a intercourse with us, let them continue to indulge party question, in order to prevent its rejection, them. If not, they will refrain from them. because he defied that gentleman to support
Mr. Otis said, he would state the motives which the propriety of the section by argument. He, H. OF R.]
Intercourse with France.
therefore, makes an appeal to party, by saying it which French prizes are permitted to be con will be best to leave gentlemen to their own condemned or sold. So far as relates to condemna versation. Mr. G. believed so too, because it tion, the gentleman from Massachusetts seems no would be impossible for the friends of this section to understand it. Most neutral nations have ad to answer the objections brought against it. mitted of a consular jurisdiction by France with
But the gentleman from Massachusetts com- respect to the sale of their prizes, though we have plains that every section of this bill is opposed. not. They are considered as an inferior court o No part of this bill, said Mr. G., which is similar admiralty, and we have no right to find fault with to the law as it now stands has been opposed, but any nation for admitting of them, though we only the new principles which have been intro- have not chosen to do so. But the bill does not duced into it; and could it be expected that we only contemplate cases of condemnation, but also should sit silently to see a section pass like the those of sale. Did not we, said Mr. G., before the present, which authorizes the President of the British Treaty, suffer the French to bring in and United States to interdict all our intercourse with sell their prizes in our ports? It is true, a neuSpain and Holland, without saying it is wrong? tral nation is not obliged to permit the sale of the Because this power is to be lodged where the gen- prizes of belligerent Powers; it is a thing which tleman thinks it is expedient for the United States they may do or not, as they find it their interest ; it ought to be lodged, are we, said Mr. G., to we have done it, and we should have thought it place an unlimited confidence in the President on very extraordinary is, on that account, Great Britthe subject of commerce, which the Constitution ain should have said, we will prohibit all interhas exclusively placed in our hands ? Could it course with you, because you permit French prizes be supposed that members on this floor who re- to be sold in your ports. present the western counties of Pennsylvania, What is the ground upon which this business Virginia, and the States of Kentucky and Ten- is taken? There is no official document before the nessee, should be silent when a provision is pro- House ; it is true the gentleman from Massachuposed io the House which might go to prevent setts has read a memorial to show that the judges those parts of the country from exporting a bushel in Curacoa are corrupt, and have suffered prizes of wheat or a barrel of flour? This could not be to be sold contrary to ihe law of nations. But expected; for his own part, he could scarcely be- what is the natural course to be taken in such lieve his own eyes, when he read this section of cases ? Certainly for our Executive to negotiate the bill.
for a redress of grievances, and not cut off at one As to what the gentleman from Rhode Island blow our intercourse, without waiting for any rehad said about the imprisonment of our seamen, presentation on the subject. The same ground of this bill has no relation to them. This section complaint, Mr. G. said, had existed in some of the says that the President shall have power to sus- British West India islands. Have gentlemen forpend our intercourse with all those places in which gotten what was done at Cape Nichola Mole? French privateers shall be built, repaired, &c. Is And did we think it right at that time to suspend it not known, said Mr. G., thai Spain and Hol- our commercial intercourse with the British ? land are parties in the present war against Great No; the first step was to negotiate with the BritBritain, and that therefore their possessions in the ish Government. West Indies and elsewhere must receive French privateers and suffer them to be repaired? Indeed; It proposes to place an unlimited power in the
A provision like the present is extremely novel. they are interested in all their captures of British hands of the President as to the interdiction of vessels and property; and if, under the pretence of cruising against the British, they bring in Ame- and says we have nothing to fear from this. If
The gentleman from Rhode Islrican vessels, it cannot be expected that the ports so, said Mr. G., Congress might as well pass a law of Spain and Holland can refuse them harbor. It for the President to do whatever he thinks proper is clear that every port of the possessions of Spain with respect to our commerce. But, if we mean and Holland does and must admit French privateers. Whilst parties in the war they can in no
to preserve peace with all nations, except France, way avoid it; and, unless we mean to make every thorized by the law of nations in a conduct of this
we ought not to act thus; for we are not aunation in Europe a party in our disputes with
kind. France, and declare war against them as joint enemies with France, we ought not to pass a clause
Again: with respect to Holland, we have delike the present.
clared by a treaty with that country that they Is it, asked Mr. G., contrary to the law of na- shall be entitled to the same privileges which we tions to suffer the vessels of a belligerent Power grant to the most favored nation. We cannot, to be built in a neutral port ? Certainly not, for therefore
, without violating that treaty, prevent we admit of it ourselves. We are now building vessels from Curacoa, or any other Dutch possesvessels for the Dey of Algiers, which are intended sion, from coming into our ports. to cruise against neutral nations; and how can Mr. G. wished, however, the gentleman from we, therefore, say it is a breach of the law of na- Virginia had postponed his motion until the tions? In building these vessels, we do not sup- amendments proposed to be made to this section pose that we have anything to do with their had been adopted or rejected, as he supposed it employment. But the prohibition is still more would be necessary to retain the latter part of the extraordinary when it is extended to places in section.